The U.S. Men's National Soccer Team plays its first-ever match in Cincinnati on June 9. It's the team's final match ahead of the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup, a tournament featuring 16 teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Speaking with media Thursday, Head Coach Gregg Berhalter hints fans can expect to see some big names on the roster since it will be the last preparation match before the Gold Cup.
"When I think about some of the competition in the Gold Cup, this is really going to prepare us," he says. "When I'm looking at the roster and the timing of when everyone is coming into camp, I think this is going to be a good final preparation match and, hopefully, we're going to be able to get all our guys on the field in that game."
The USA takes on Venezuela at 2 p.m. at Nippert Stadium.
The preliminary 40-man roster was due to CONCACAF Thursday. U.S. Soccer says the final Gold Cup roster will be released June 6, the same day the team travels to Cincinnati.
"There's just an amazing atmosphere in Cincinnati," Berhalter says, going so far to say he thinks it is one of the best in Major League Soccer. The national team will be looking for that same enthusiasm when it plays at Nippert Stadium.
Sod will be laid over Nippert's turf field for the match. U.S. Soccer says the installation begins June 2. Once the Cincinnati match was formally announced, the players union balked, objecting to the plan to lay a temporary surface. They argue the temporary grass poses serious risk of injury.
Berhalter was asked if he has concerns about the surface. "U.S. Soccer has done installations before, including some very successful ones in the 2016 Copa America," he says. "I think the opportunity to bring the national team to a great soccer market like Cincinnati is important. We're excited that there's already 19,000 tickets sold and we're looking forward to a great atmosphere."
Berhalter says he believes the field will be up to an acceptable standard and says he hasn't spoken with the players specifically about the field. However, he adds, "I think they every right to be concerned about a good playing surface. I think that's normal."
The game could be seen as a trial run for the 2026 Men's World Cup being jointly hosted by the USA, Canada and Mexico. Cincinnati is among 23 finalists being considered for one of the 16 host city slots.
Soccer fans in Ohio don't have to travel far to see the USMNT play a second time. Cleveland is hosting Group D's second opening round Gold Cup match on June 22.
A History Of USA v Venezuela
U.S. Soccer states:
The MNT plays for the first time at the home of MLS expansion club FC Cincinnati. Overall, the U.S. holds a 10-2-3 record in the state of Ohio. Seeking to win a record-tying seventh Gold Cup title, the United States will open group play on June 18 against Guyana at a sold-out Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minn. The MNT will play one other Gold Cup warmup prior to the June 9 match in Cincinnati.
Having first met at the 1993 Copa América, this will be the sixth contest between the United States and Venezuela, with the USA posting an unbeaten 3-0-2 mark in the series. Christian Pulisic had the goal while Tim Howard earned Budweiser Man of the Match honors in the last meeting, a 1-1 draw on June 3, 2017, in Sandy, Utah.